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On a spending spree!

Sunday 4th December 2016

I shall soon be going on a spending spree. The wedding hire money that I put into the bank account throughout the summer will now be invested back into the cars. I have already refurbished the brakes on one car; new brake shoes all round plus new clevis pins and felts on all of the linkage joints. It has improved the stopping power no end! The carburettor from the same car is now with a specialist for a thorough overhaul and the carburettors from the other cars will also be sent off in due course. After that I shall send the autovacs off for an upgrade. These units suck the petrol from the tank and send it to the carburettor.…

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Ashridge House

Friday 14th October 2016

Last weekend marked the end of my bookings for 2016. The diary is empty until April of next year, so the annual maintenance on the cars can now start. But before I reach for the spanners and oil can, I'll take a moment to reflect on the summer now past. The 2016 season was fun and there are many highlights; the trip to the Greek Orthodox Church, the Italian wedding, the Thai wedding when the car was decorated to within an inch of its life all spring to mind. But the very last wedding was memorable too. I had to collect the bride from Ashridge House, take her to Harpenden and then return the happy couple to Ashridge. Quite a lot…

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Locked out!

Thursday 18th August 2016

Over the years, I have taken brides to almost all of the local wedding venues but, last week, I was pleased to be going to one which was new to me. The Gardens of the Rose are situated in Chiswell Green, next door to the now-defunct Butterfly World. This really is the most beautiful setting and perfect for a wedding on a summer day. The only slight problem last week was that we arrived at the main gates to find them shut and padlocked! The gardens were closed to the general public on the day of our visit and nobody had bothered to tell the bride that access was through a service entrance, along a narrow lane. Staff were thin…

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My big fat Greek wedding

Wednesday 13th July 2016

Last week the New Zealand car had a long run; we went to Southgate to collect a bride and take her to the Greek Orthodox Church at Brookmans Park before heading off to the reception at Sopwell House in St Albans. It was about 50 miles in total. Luckily I allowed plenty of time to get to Southgate as the traffic at Cockfosters was awful; no roadworks or accidents, just sheer volume of cars. It was a sunny day and the temperature gauge did start to rise whilst I was inching my way through the queue, but these old Austins do seem to handle the heat quite well and we were never in danger of boiling over. I had never driven…

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Thursday 9th June 2016

Wedding car bookings seem to be like London busses. You wait for ages and then a bunch of them turn up together! Spring has been quiet, with just a handful of weddings but I now look at the diary and find July and August will be incredibly busy months. I am trying to be sensible when taking bookings but I find it quite difficult to turn people away. Oh well, I do enjoy driving the cars, so a busy period isn't so bad and I shouldn't complain too much. I try to drive the cars myself as much as possible but I do have a number of reserve drivers standing in the wings in case of emergencies or to cover…

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Taking my temperature

Wednesday 23rd March 2016

Last year, a good-for-nothing low life broke into the blue car's garage. Luckily, he didn't steal the car. I imagine it would have been too difficult to start and, anyway, it couldn't be sold on the open market without it becoming obvious to me or other members of the Vintage Austin Register. There is a small community of Austin enthusiasts and word soon spreads when a car is advertised for sale. There were no tools left in the garage so the thief was out of luck. But, bizarrely, he did steal the radiator cap, complete with temperature gauge. I was able to buy a new radiator cap from a club member from Derbyshire who recently had a batch specially made but…

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Self Service

Sunday 6th March 2016

The new season is just around the corner with a wedding in two weeks time and another a week after that. So, shrugging off the effects of a horrid cold, I spent some time at the garage last week, completing the servicing work on the cars. The New Zealand car was the last one needing attention so it was treated to a full service. Firstly an engine oil change followed by checks of the oil levels in the gearbox and back axle. Then out came the grease gun to pump grease into the steering joints, steering box and spring shackles. After that, I had to pull out the wooden floor-boards to expose the brake cross tubes which needed lubricating as…

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Sunday 17th January 2016

Enquiries have started to pick up now that Christmas and New Year are over. The phone hasn't been ringing off the hook, but there has been a good steady flow of people asking about availability and getting quotes. It will be interesting to see whether or not this flow continues because I deliberately didn't attend the St Albans wedding fair last autumn and the organiser warned me that I might lose business as a result. Despite this, I took a calculated risk and cut back on my marketing spend. I already have a generous budget allocated to the running of my website and I am hoping this will be enough. Wedding fairs can be ok but I have often pondered their…

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A quiet winter

Sunday 13th December 2015

Christmas is always a quiet time for me and I really don't mind at all. Back in the 1920s, few cars had the luxurious features which we now take for granted and my cars have never been fitted with heaters. This makes a chauffeur's life extremely uncomfortable in the depths of winter. It isn't too bad when the engine is running because the heat permeates through the wooden floorboards but when you are sitting, waiting in the car, it gets very chilly. For this reason, I only take on occasional weddings between November and February and then I warn people that the cars can't handle ice and snow on the roads. However, I am taking still open for business and already…

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Classic car show

Sunday 15th November 2015

On Friday, Karl and I went to the classic car show at the NEC to look at the wonderful vehicles on display. It was a great day, exploring the various exhibits and searching the autojumble for the parts I need for the Austins. There was a big display of Austin cars but they were all a bit too modern for me; 1930s onwards! There were four halls jammed with a wonderful selection of classic cars. The American cars were impressive as were the vintage sports cars. There was the 'Beast of Turin', a Fiat S76 dating back to 1911, sporting a 28 litre engine which shoots flames from the exhaust. Also a lovely Edwardian Wolseley racing car which the owner…

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